Take a look inside Highland Fire Station No. 1
A new position will combine three branches of public safety in Highland and put them under the command of one chief.
Fire and EMS Chief Brian Wilson was appointed Highland’s first-ever Chief of Emergency Services by Public Safety Director and Police Chief Chris Conrad at a recent meeting of the Highland City Council.
Wilson said combining the three wings of the city is typical in many cities and brings him back to his roots. Before the retirement of former Fire Chief Rick Bloemker, Wilson served as Highland’s emergency medical service chief.
Under the new position, Wilson will manage the fire department, the EMS department and emergency management.
“It used to be that the EMS chief was separated from the fire chief and the police chief more or less handled the emergency management end of things,” Wilson said. “This is kind of taking all three of those areas and combining them under one person.”
Wilson touts 42 years of fire and emergency service. He started his career in Lake Forest, Illinois, in 1976 and, in 2015, after retiring from the Edwardsville Fire Department, he came to Highland to serve as the city’s EMS chief. He also currently serves as the city’s interim director of building and zoning.
He said working with both EMS and fire services will be a return to normalcy for him, as that is typically how other cities work.
“This is more in my norm,” Wilson said. “I’m used to managing both aspects of it, and each one has some unique aspects to it.”
Wilson said he hopes to accomplish two goals this year in the newly formed position. That includes revamping the department’s training programs and reupping the department’s prefire preparations.
At the meeting, Wilson’s appointment was followed by five newly promoted members of the fire department receiving new badges.
The following firefighters received promotions:
Steve Durbin was promoted to lieutenant;
Travis Knebel was promoted to lieutenant;
Chris Straub was promoted to Captain;
Ty Barr was promoted to Lieutenant; and
Daniel Tallman was promoted to lieutenant.
Wilson said the new group of lieutenants will all have a hand in training, a new responsibility of the position. The promotions follow a large amount of retirement from the department, which Wilson said created a need for new leadership.
“We have a really well rounded group,” Wilson said.